Beastie Boys founder Adam Yauch lost his long battle with salivary gland cancer on Friday. In the world of the Beastie Boys he is commonly known as MCA, a true talent in the hip-hop genre. In a business where hip-hop acts sky rocket like roman candles and fizz out at the height of glory, the Beastie Boys have endured since 1979.
They initially came together as a hardcore punk band in the vein of The Dead Kennedys and Reagan Youth playing hip-hop venues all over the five boroughs of New York.
They were barely more than teenagers tearing up the Big Apple music scene. It was not until their shift to more of a hip-hop sound in 1983 that the boys from Brooklyn begin to see moderate success when their 12-inch single “Cooky Puss” (satirical references to the ice cream treat) became a hit in New York underground dance clubs and night clubs.
If Cooky Puss was the launching pad, their next release License to Ill was the rocket. They decided to hire a DJ for their live shows, and ended up getting an NYU student named Rick Rubin. Soon thereafter, Rubin began producing records, formed Def Jam Recordings and approached the band about producing them for his new label.
The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released the album at the end of the year. The album was well-received, and was favorably reviewed byRolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, “Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece.” Licensed to Ill became the best selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go No.1 on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached No.2 on the Urban album charts. It was Def Jam’s fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The first single from the album, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)“, reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Rick Rubin and ended their relationship with Def Jam to sign with Capitol Records. Their first release on the Capital label is the 1989 release, Paul’s Boutique. The album was a fan favorite and despite going double-platinum ten years later Boutique was considered by Capital Records a commercial failure. Rolling Stone ranked it No.156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
All in all, Beastie Boys have released eight studio albums including 2011′sHot Sauce Committee Part Two. The group had sold 22 million albums in the United States and 40 million albums worldwide, making them, according to Billboard, “the biggest-selling rap group” since 1991.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012, “just the third rap group to enter the Hall, after Run-D.M.C. (2009) and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (2007).”
On May 4, 2012 founder Adam Yauch succumbed to a rare for of cancer at the age of 47. The illness delayed release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and the subsequent tour.
Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam said that Yauch was “a crazy talent whose contributions with his band were inspirational and consistently ground breaking”.
“Spirit in the Sky” is a song written and originally recorded by Norman Greenbaum and released in 1969. The single sold two million copies in 1969 and 1970 and reached number three in the U.S. Billboard chart.
On this date in 1970 it hit No. 1 on the UK chart. It also hit No. 1 on the Australian and Canadian charts. Rolling Stone ranked “Spirit in the Sky” #333 on their list – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was featured Greenbaum’s 1969 album.
In a 12/06/2011 interview with classic-rock music journalist Ray Shasho of The Examiner, Greenbaum stated that western movies were the real inspiration for “Spirit In The Sky”:
Norman Greenbaum: If you ask me what I based “Spirit In The Sky” on… What did we grow up watching? …Westerns! These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on. So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on.
Ray Shasho: So that was the trigger that got you to write the song?
Norman Greenbaum: Yes. The song itself was simple, when you’re writing a song you keep it simple of course. It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky. Funny enough… I wanted to die with my boots on.
The Marshall Tucker Band developed its Southern rock roots in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Blending rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, country, and gospel, the Southern rock genre in the early 70s was a daily staple around the Mills household.
MTB enjoyed moderate success early in their career but in the face of personal tragedy the band slipped into obscurity and in 1983 went their separate ways.
Five years later MTB reunited and have performed in various lineups every since.
The original 1972 founding lineup included:
Toy Caldwell - guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter (1947–1993)
The “Marshall Tucker” in the band’s name refers a Spartanburg-area piano tuner. One evening while the band was practicing in an old warehouse and discussing possible band names, someone noticed that the warehouse’s door key had the name “Marshall Tucker” inscribed on it. That’s all it took. They didn’t know at the time it referred to a real person. It later came to light that Marshall Tucker, the blind piano tuner, was the previous warehouse tenant.
On April 28, 1980, Tommy Caldwell died from injuries sustained in a car crash on April 22. It was a devastating loss for the band, the people of South Carolina, and the Southern rock genre. The Charlie Daniels Band‘s 1980 album Full Moon is dedicated to Caldwell.
In 1979 MTB moved over to Warner Brothers and released Running Like the Wind. Over the next four years the band released five more albums under the WB banner. The 1983 album Greetings from South Carolina could only manage a 202 spot on the album charts and within weeks of its release the band hung up their guitar picks and went their separate ways.
In 1988, Gray and Eubanks reorganized MTB to record the album Still Holdin’ On, their one and only release on the Mercury label. Although Gray and Eubanks added new members Rusty Milner, Stuart Swanlund, and Tim Lawter, Still Holdin’ On was primarily recorded with studio musicians. The newer members had a much greater role, however, on the band’s 1990 album, Southern Spirit, released on the Sisaspa label. The album marked a return to the band’s country and blues roots.
Founding member Toy Caldwell died in his South Carolina home on February 25, 1993. The cause of death was listed as respiratory failure.
The band continues to tour and make music for fans around the country.
This post is dedicated to the memories of brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell.
The band at Tom Bass Park Amphitheater in Houston - May 15, 2011. Photo by Barry Sigman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: In an odd coincidence, one year later on April 28, 1981, Steve Currie, bass player for the British rock band T-Rex, also died in a car crash.
The legend suggested that McCartney died in a traffic accident in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike double. (It was quite provident that the double was a bass player.)
Late in 1969, college students were claiming that evidence of McCartney’s death was found in Beatles song lyrics and artwork.
On September 17, 1969, the Drake University student newspaper published an article titled “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?” The article described a rumour circulating on campus that Paul was dead. The rumour included numerous clues from recent Beatles albums, including the “turn me on, dead man” message heard when “Revolution 9” from the White Album is played backwards. (How much pot do you have to smoke before you start playing records backwards looking for hidden messages?)
Suggestion that the words spoken by McCartney’s band-mate John Lennon in the final section of the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” are “I buried Paul”. McCartney later revealed the words were actually “cranberry sauce.”
Oh, and the famous Abbey Road cover (shown above):
Symbolising a funeral procession, with “John, dressed in pure white, symbolises the preacher or heavenly body. Ringo, dressed in full black, symbolises the mourner. George, in scruffy denim jeans and shirt, symbolises the gravedigger and Paul, barefoot and out of step with other members of the band, symbolises the corpse.”
Maybe McCartney really is dead and the hoax/jokes has been on all of us.
Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer on Thursday past. He was a unique player on the rock, country, and folk landscape. Helm achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band. His soulful voice was cultivated in the cotton fields of Arkansas, a stones throw from the Mississippi River.
In the late 90s, Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer causing severe hoarseness and was advised to undergo a laryngectomy. Instead, Helm opted for a tedious regimen of radiation treatments at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The tumor was successfully removed but Helm’s vocal cords were damaged. His powerful tenor voice was replaced by a quiet rasp.
Helm’s narration and performance in The Right Stuff.
On April 17, 2012, his wife and daughter announced on Helm’s website that he was “in the final stages of his battle with cancer” and thanked fans while requesting prayers. Two days later, Helm died at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.